Safety Guidelines for a Warehouse Workplace Environment

Customers usually rely heavily on the logistical processes of enterprises for ensuring proper storage and distribution of concerned products. Be it an authorized distribution center or a proper warehouse, safety happens to be the primary concern when it comes to controlling hazards and ensuring the well-being of workers. Warehouse safety, therefore, is one logistical balancing activity which is often overlooked in the wake of industrial growth.

Although safeguarding a warehouse comes with myriad set of benefits, there are times when inadequate resources, insufficient time and lack of opportunities come out as the main reasons why the same gets compromised in the long run. However, results are readily visible when the safety measures are implemented— assisting enterprises with higher productivity and improved employee satisfaction.

Why Warehouse Safety is an Important Logistical Cog?

Disregarding warehouse safety readily kills off the reliability quotient. Companies, often lose out on a loyal customer base if the condition of products— stored and distributed via warehouses— isn’t top-notch. Moreover, strengthening the safety regulations readily minimizes the risk of injuries and workplace disruptions caused due to uncalled mishaps.

Apart from that, warehouse safety also lowers down the equipment downtime— associated with any industrial setup.

How to Go about Warehouse Safety— Enlisting the Safety Guidelines

In the subsequent sections, we shall be talking about the existing safety guidelines— associated with a warehouse or any distribution center. These measures should be diligently followed by workers and employees— for minimizing injuries, product damage and everything that negatively impacts the growth of the logistical interface of an organization.

  1. Using Safety Equipment

When it comes to managing a warehouse, special emphasis must be given to the heavier items in play. It is therefore advisable to work with hydraulic dollies and even forklifts for lifting the same. In addition to that, warehouse staff should use proper eyewear at work. Hard hats should be made mandatory in a similar working environment.

Educating employees about fire exits and installed sprinklers— in case of fire-based emergencies— is advisable. Adding to the list of equipment is therefore important when it comes to strengthening the warehouse safety guidelines. While these attributes take out the obvious issues of injuries, they also instill faith concerning the workplace environment. Enterprises flinching about the increased costs must understand that having warehouse safety covered readily pays off in the long run.

  1. Eliminate Safety Hazards

Potential hazards are common to a warehouse working environment. However, it is important to eliminate most of them via regular safety checks. Elementary precautions include keeping the floor free of liquids, stray cords and items that spill off. Covering pits and floor cracks in also an important aspect towards handling potential threats.

  1. Label Hazardous Zones

Warehouse safety guidelines seem incomplete without the hazardous zones getting a mention. When it comes to a warehouse environment, it is important to label zones for safe walk and other non-professional activities. However, it isn’t advisable to arbitrarily assigned zones as proper signage and authorization are needed.

Black paint, tape and even white stripes can help if the enterprises are vigilant about the safety of workers and concerned employees. Having hazardous areas marked can easily avoid accidents.

  1. Incorporate Safer Techniques while Lifting

Most warehouse inclusions are heavy and need to be transported with care. Therefore, it is important to assess the best options available for lifting goods. Firstly, warehouse superintendents need to ensure the best possible route for the product in picture. Once an obstacle-free pathway is identified, safe lifting strategies must come into the picture.

Some of the best tactics include using push methods instead of pull. Moreover, it is also advisable to lean in the exact direction of the load— while moving the object. Enterprises using forklifts must train drivers and only authorize experienced personnel for lifting.

  1. Provide Refresher Course and Training

Warehouse staff should be updated about the workplace environment and even safe practices at work. Education and training are the important aspects to better adherence and staff members need to be fully aware of the risks involved. Cutting corners— in terms of staff training— often lead to catastrophic consequences. That said, warehouse management must be aware of the repercussions and this is why courses and training should be given precedence.

  1. Promote Warehouse Awareness

Probably the most overlooked aspect of warehouse safety— overall awareness is a pertinent aspect which needs to be promoted— in every possible manner. One way of achieving the same includes healthy communication between the staff members. Moreover, the employees need to be vocal about their requirements and even discrepancies at work. One example would be a simple yet important “coming through” alert which lets coworkers know that something heavy or inflammable is crossing the pathway.

Every person— within the warehouse— needs to learn about the terms and terminologies used by the coworkers.

Warehouse safety is a critical aspect and even plays an important role in customer satisfaction and retention. While most of the mentioned tactics are easy to implement, it must be understood that all of them are interlinked and readily work towards the betterment of the workplace environment.

 

KPI for Warehouse

Why Are KPIs Important in Warehousing & Fulfillment?

Warehouse business is a back-end operations business. You don’t control sales, only deliveries. The efficiency of the operations is the key to extracting maximum profits from a warehouse. So you need to know that you are getting maximum return on your investment in this business, just like any other business. But since most of it is a fixed model, B2B business with caveats of B2C (retail deliveries), you need to understand and measure the nitty gritty of the warehouse operations and fine tune them. That’s where the KPI or Key Performance Indicators come in.

A right det of KPIs tells you the detailed performance of your warehouse. Couple it with past indicators, your forecast of business growth and you can figure out where you are heading in future. For example if you are already at maximum space utilization, you cannot expand. A client whose business is growing very fast will need more space. If you can not offer him more space, he will go to someone who has more space. That will reduce you space utilization and also your revenue. Not to mention, you now need to get your sales to run and find a client who can utilize the now freed up space. So while on the face of it a full utilization of warehouse space sounds good, it is not good for a growing business. That is why, it is not only important to have the right KPI, but you also needs to set the right standards for those KPIs. Standards should be the ones that work for you. (Is 80% space utilization good for you, or you prefer 95%?)

Similarly, KPI also help you in benchmarking. benchmarking tells you how good you are doing as compared to others in the same industry. If your KPI is below the industry standard, that means you are not utilizing your warehouse to the best possible extent. You might be making money, but lower KPI means that you are leaving money on the table. You could get more profits by improving those KPIs. On the other hand if you are beating industry KPI but still not making money, something else is wrong somewhere. A well designed set of KPI itself would direct you to where to look. If you are beating the KPI and making money, it looks like a good sign. But it can also mean you are stretching yourself. If you are extracting higher productivity from your machines and spending less on maintenance, you might have to bear a high depreciation and replace the machines faster. If your order cycle time is very less, you might not have any contingency built into the process. That is risky.

Whether you want to stay with the industry benchmarks or set your own benchmark standards, is entirely up to you. While industry benchmarks are there for a good reason, (most of the industry works at those levels) you don’t have to be bound by them. Your KPIs will vary depending on your niche value proposition and your operating model. For example if you specialize in handling delicate products that need more space for storage, your floor utilization will be lower. Also, the KPIs for 2PL warehouse will be very different from the KPIs for 3PL warehouse.

The Supply Chain Operational Reference Model (the SCOR Model), created by Supply Chain Council, provides for over 200 KPIs for monitoring the overall performance of a supply chain. These are broken into various levels to get more granular picture of the business. Some of these could be used for measuring performance of a warehouse as well. Research them to identify which one are suitable for you. Now that we understand what KPIs means and why we should measure them, let’s look at some of the key KPIs for warehousing business.

The main KPIs for a warehouse should focus on Receiving, put away, storage, pick and pack and shipping.

Inventory Accuracy: What is the accuracy of the workers when preparing the product (or order). It is measured by taking the headcount of the items in the stock and comparing it with what’s recorded in the books. This one has direct impact on your working capital and order fulfilment capacity.

Perfect Order Rate: This measures the number of orders shipped to the customer without any incident. The incident could be damaged goods, inaccurate orders, late shipment etc. Needless to say, this one tells you how well is your warehouse operating where it matters the most, the final fulfilment of order, shipped out of the warehouse.

Productivity: This measure tells how many orders are ready to be picked up by the shipper, per hour. Depending on your warehouse business model, it could the number of orders per hour, or total line items per house or it could be the total dollar value of the orders per hour.

Equipment utilization: This one tells about how well your equipment is being utilized. Underutilization of the equipment means you should stretch it more and achieve more. Overutilization mean higher maintenance and replacement costs. Idle equipment depreciates without giving any return. Over utilized equipment can lead to breakdowns and stop the whole chain, leading to higher losses. Your equipment must be running at the optimum rated utilization to extract maximum value from it.

Cycle time: This KPI measures the total time taken since the material came in as inventory and was picked up by the shipper for delivery, as a part of the order. The shorter the cycle time, the lesser the money tied up in working capital. An end to end cycle time would include the transit and transportation time taken by the shippers for the final delivery to the customer’s premises.

Average cost per order: This KPI measures how much are you spending in running the warehouse. It is calculated as total orders fulfilled divided by the total cost incurred for the warehousing operations. The costs include the manpower costs, cost of rejects and returns absorbed by warehouse, cost of damaged products that are absorbed by warehouse, variable costs for running the warehouse (utilities, taxes, rents, insurance,), equipment cost (consumables and depreciation for large equipment) and all other costs. This should be always be as low as possible, as it eats straight into your profits.

There are many other KPI that you can measure to understand the efficiency of your warehouse operations. The finer the KPI, the deeper the control it can provide. However, at a bare minimum, you must keep an eye out for the top line (revenue), the bottom line (profits) and ROI (return on Investment).

Best 3pl in us, Co-packing

Benefits of Eco-Conscious, Sustainable Packaging

As your business grows, so do your packaging requirements. More the products sell, the more packaging material is used. This gives you an opportunity to use your packaging wisely to your advantage as well as your consumer’s. A third very important view would be using your packaging for the benefit of the whole world. After it has served its purpose, which is, deliver the product to the customer, Packaging of a product generally becomes waste. As a responsible citizen of the word, everyone including your business should be looking to reduce waste. If you are not already, you should be looking for sustainable packaging solutions. They be called environmental friendly, Eco-friendly or sustainable packaging, but the basic principle is same, that is to reduce the consumption of resources used for packaging the product. PricewaterhouseCoopers conducted a study to understand the impact of sustainable packaging on the industry. Detailed report can be read here. As per the report, the pressure for sustainable packaging will continue to increase on the industry. There will be regulations that the industry will need to follow to ensure sustainability. The industry also needs to be more proactive to define what makes a packaging sustainable and how the sustainability should be measured.

 

So, what is sustainable packaging?

While there is no single definition or description that is accepted globally, sustainablepackaging.org has tried to describe what constitutes sustainable packaging. The key elements of sustainable packaging are

 

  • It is safe & healthy.
  • It meets market criteria for performance and cost.
  • It optimizes the use of renewable or recycled source materials and uses renewable energy.
  • It is physically designed to optimize materials and energy required for manufacturing the packaging.
  • It is effectively recovered and utilized in biological and/or industrial closed loop cycles.

 

Sustainable packaging is not only socially desirable but has business advantage as well. Let’s look at some of the benefits of adopting sustainable packaging.

 

Marketing Advantage/Reputation Boost. This is the one that has direct impact on your top line. Businesses that use environmental friendly practices generally have more favourable image in the market place. Increasing number of consumers are becoming environmentally conscious. When a brand makes an investment in environment friendly practices, it not only boosts its image amongst existing customers, but also gains new customers who are concerned about the environment. When customers, see a firm making a firm commitment to the environment, they want to support that brand. Most of the environment conscious consumers are very active on social media and social media, today, is a very important marketing platform. Imagine the kind of free advertising that you will get when these people talk about your brand. Moreover, many NGOs and Government agencies publish list of preferred companies or highlight the companies that have demonstrated the commitment to sustainability. The consumer activists are always looking at these sources and share their leanings on social media. Moreover, the newer sustainable materials increase the shelf life of many products, keeping them fresh for longer. (think cling film for vegetables) Many customers feel less guilty throwing away the packaging as it is now sustainable and doesn’t contribute to pollution (at least not to a very high extend).

 

Reduced resource consumption. Increasingly the companies that use recycled or sustainable options for packaging are discovering that it also comes with an added cost advantage. It is one of the known facts that sustainable packaging focuses on recycled material which leads to reduced consumption of precious, non-renewable resources. Redesigning the packaging to use lesser material and more compact shape helps in further reducing the use of that material. The key objective here is to reduce overall resource consumption, by reducing the amount of packaging used and reducing the energy used to produce them. Compact shapes translate into lesser space used for transporting, translating into more products being transported for same space and thus reducing the fuel or transportation cost. Given these facts, the investors and analysts have started loving the sustainable packaging options.

 

Reduced Storage. As discussed when using sustainable packaging, one the key objective is to reduce the amount of packaging used. Smaller packaging means reduced storage requirements leading to smaller bins and smaller warehousing requirement. This leads to savings in logistics not only for the supplier but also for the consumer. (Consumers need smaller space in their homes to store the product). Subsequently, the sustainability also helps by increasing warehouse productivity and reduces labour costs. Sustainable packaging also helps in disposing off the empty packaging/packaging. Smaller packaging is always easier to dispose and not to forget, it is easily processed (being sustainable). This reduces the overall disposal cost of packaging material.

 

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Today, every business is required to do CSR activities. Be it reduced energy consumption in terms of heating, cooling or electricity, water, paper and other resources. Sustainable packaging furthers that cause and can be used to present the company as socially responsible one. You help reduce the carbon footprint of not only your company, but also that of your customers, your logistics providers and society at large.

 

Thus, sustainable packaging is a must that companies need to focus on; both for environment and their own benefit.